On the occasion of a celebration dinner, May, Andrea, Shermie and myself were able to strike another Original Fare restaurant off of our “to try” list.
Red Ox Inn sign
We met at the Red Ox Inn (9420 91 Street NW) on Thursday, a tiny boutique restaurant with a capacity to hold around 26 patrons. The sleek banquets and simple furnishings reminded me of the Blue Pear, but the somewhat crammed design, which allowed for those extra few seats, in my opinion took away any potential streamlined elegance. Because of the size of the room as well, I kept harking back to the “Sound Level” category present at the end of each New York Times restaurant review – while levels weren’t unbearable, the close quarters definitely made an intimate meal an impossibility, save for the one lonely booth in the corner.
The menu and price points are similar to Madison’s Grill, and in effect also made deciding on just a single entrée difficult. I eventually settled on the Arctic Char (hoping it would emulate just some of the glory of Mack’s Blink entrée), while Shermie stuck with her benchmarking steak (Alberta tenderloin medallions, in this case) and Andrea and May began their reflective dining exercise with Duck.
Service was a bit slow throughout due to the fact that there were just two servers on hand (compared to the five at the Blue Pear), but the meandering attention seemed to match with the overall cool, leisurely vibe of the Red Ox – a place where diners are expected to relax and enjoy the food over wine and good conversation.
Eventually, our entrees arrived, each plate artfully arranged with a generous pool of sauce underneath each pile. Shermie thoroughly enjoyed her steak, and though Andrea had dish envy looking over at my char, I had to admit her duck looked pretty good – perfectly cooked, accompanied by a tart raspberry vinaigrette. My sherry vinaigrette, however, was much too sour for my liking. As someone who prefers to eat fish without a citrus adornment, it was probably the wrong dish to order. Thus, though I was hoping to be able to experience the distinct flavour of the fish, I couldn’t through the overpowering and ever-present sauce.
Pancetta wrapped char fillet, roast garlic stuffing, mashed potatoes, warm sherry vinaigrette
Grilled duck breast, mixed berry chutney, ricotta-spinach gnudi, balsamic-thyme demi glace
Alberta tenderloin medallion with cognac wild mushroom cream, roast root vegetables, mashed potatoes
Dessert for the dining twins was the lemon tart with a scoop of house-made raspberry sorbet, while Shermie and I opted instead for the warm chocolate cake accompanied with vanilla bean ice cream. Lovingly rich, but not cloyingly sweet, the oozing chocolate cake was extremely satisfying. Andrea and May also enjoyed their tart and in particular the fresh sorbet.
Warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream
Lemon tart with pinenut crust and raspberry sorbet
I will definitely consider the Red Ox Inn for a future special occasion dinner, but admit that it wouldn’t be high on my list if I was looking for an intimate, quiet space.
Red Ox Inn
9420 91 Street NW
Tuesday to Sunday, 5-10pm